South America is best known for its beautiful waterfalls, famous landmarks such as Machu Picchu and Easter Island, and one of the world’s longest rivers, the Amazon. As incredible as these are, many people would agree that their cuisine is just as great. If you’re traveling to see these amazing places and you want the full South American experience, these are among the foods that you can’t miss out on…
Unlike Americans who like to extend breakfast all the way until the lunch hour and call it “brunch”, Brazilians like to keep breakfast to the early hours of the day, generally between 6 and 8:30 am. This allows them to save plenty of space for what they consider to be the most important meal of the day, lunch. Although they like to keep breakfast light, there is no shortage of traditional Brazilian breakfast foods. Fruits, cheeses, sweet cereals, and coffee are a few of the things that you might find at the table in a Brazilian household.
As a tropical country, Brazil has a variety of fruits to choose from, but Papaya is one of the most common to be found at breakfast. Along with some fruit, they might munch on some pão francês (a French roll) with butter, pão de queijo (a baked, cheese-flavored roll), or unfrosted cake while they drink their coffee. Coffee is considered to be the most important part of the Brazilian breakfast because it provides energy for the work day.
Breakfast is more of a quick snack than it is a meal in Argentina. A few facturas or a medialuna and they’re off to work! Both facturas and medialunas are similar to things that you might see on your own table. Facturas are custard filled pastries, sometimes filled with ham and cheese instead, and are generally finished off with a cup of coffee. Medialunas are croissant-like pastries, very similar to the croissants that we know and love in America. They have vanilla and almonds baked into their dough and are often coated with honey or syrup.
So far, breakfast in South America doesn’t sound too strange!
Due to the fact that there are many farmers working long hours in Peru, breakfast is usually a very hearty meal. A common sight on the breakfast table is a simple sandwich, originally meant to be an on-the-go breakfast. A Chicharron, made with deep-fried pork, sweet potatoes, red onions, and chili salsa, is one type of sandwich that you might see on a Peruvian breakfast table. Other common breakfast sandwiches are the butifarra, a country-style ham sandwich, and the triple sandwich made with avocado, tomato and egg. It is not unusual to see soups and fruits being served along with these sandwiches. Sopa de te is a sweet soup with a porridge-like consistency that is made out of bread, tea, milk and sugar, and is a very common breakfast option. As for fruit, Peru is home to a wide variety of fruits including wild plums, bursting with sweetness and tang, and palillo, a fruit with an intense scent and a powerful sweet and sour taste at the same time. With a plate full of these foods, you can guarantee that you will be full of energy for the rest of the day.
Just as in many other countries, in Colombia there are certain dishes that are eaten for breakfast all over the country, and others that are eaten more regionally. Fruits, eggs, and coffee are widely eaten and are foods that we in America are very familiar with. Another food that most Colombians eat that is less common to see in an American breakfast is soup, specifically Caldo de Costilla. This soup is made from beef ribs boiled in water with slices of potatoes, garlic, onion and cilantro leaves and is said to be a great cure for hangovers.
Taking a look at each region, there are many breakfast foods that most of you probably haven’t ever tried before. In the Central Zone, dishes like changua (a milk soup with eggs), tamal (corn-based masa, steamed in a leaf wrapper), and calentado (last night’s reheated leftovers) are regularly eaten for the morning meal. While these dishes are most common in the Central Zone, dishes like egg arepas (an egg, deep fried in dough) and bollo (a corn based dough, boiled in water and wrapped in a corn leaf) are found on the breakfast tables of those living in the Caribbean region.